In her new BBC2 series, historian Lucy Worsley shows how the houses Jane Austen lived and stayed in influenced her writing (27 May, BBC2, 9pm).
Green-fingered bookworms should also check out the latest issue of our sister magazine Gardeners’ World, which includes a 2 for 1 entry card for gardens around the UK – including columnist Alan Titchmarsh’s favourite Austen-related gardens.
“As I live just a couple of miles from Jane Austen’s house, and as she knew the owner of our own house, gardens that are connected with her – or with the films of her books – have a special place in my affections,” he says.
Here is his Austen top 10.
1: Chawton House Library & Gardens, Hampshire
Alan says: “To walk through grounds that we knew Jane herself walked through gives the place a special atmosphere. The walled garden, though no longer intensely cultivated, has its own special charm.”
Often visited by Jane Austen, these gardens are part of an estate once owned by her brother Edward Knight. Jane’s letters depict her interest in the planning of a new walled garden here, “Edward is very well and enjoys himself as well as any Hampshire-born Austen can desire – he talks of making a new Garden..”.
Lovingly restored and tended, the gardens feature terraces, a fernery, rose garden, walled garden, wilderness with meandering paths, and manicured lawns with rural views. The new herb garden is laid out in four areas according to the plants’ medicinal uses.
Alton, Hampshire GU34 1SJ; chawtonhouse.org
Open 20 Mar-27 Oct: Mon-Fri, 12 noon-4.30pm; Sun & bank hols, 11am-5pm. Adults/OAPs £4, under-16s £2.
2: Chenies Manor Gardens, Buckinghamshire
Alan says: “ A fantastic rambling house that is especially worth visiting at tulip time when the flowerbeds explode with colour.”
A physic garden, maze, kitchen garden and parterre are among the delights in this five-acre garden (also main picture). Imaginative plantings and beautiful plant associations abound, with various colour themes and structural forms. It was the filming location for a BBC adaptation of the 2008 film ‘Miss Austen Regrets’.
Chenies, Buckinghamshire WD3 6ER; cheniesmanorhouse.co.uk
Open 5 Apr-26 Oct, Wed, Thu & bank hol Mon, 2-5pm. Adults & OAPs £6, under-15s £4. Card not valid on event day: 16 Jul.
3: Groombridge Place Gardens, Kent
Alan says: “I’d go here just to walk across the bridge that Kiera Knightley crossed in the film of ‘Pride and Prejudice’! What a setting!”
Edward Austen lived on the estate here at one time and was visited by Jane, she wrote Pride & Prejudice right after a long stay here. Peacocks wander through the formal gardens which include a white rose garden with more than 20 different varieties, an oriental garden, and a knot garden with vibrant herbaceous borders. Beyond the formal gardens is an ‘enchanted forest’ to explore.
Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 9QG; groombridgeplace.com
Open all year, daily, 10am-5.30pm (4pm in winter). Adults £9.95, OAPs & children (3-12) £8.45. Single visitor discount: 50%. Card not valid during school hols or on event days – phone or see website for details.
4: Haddon Hall, Derbyshire
Alan says: “A fascinating house with an amazing long gallery, but also a delightfully laid out garden.”
Roses and clematis clothe the walls of the upper garden whilst the redeveloped borders bloom with medicinal and dye plants and fragrant lavender, the knot garden displays plants popular 400 years ago. Haddon was the filming location for both the 2005 film ‘Pride & Prejudice’ (The Inn at Lambton) as well as the BBC mini series in 2013 ‘Death Comes to Pemberley’.
Bakewell, Derbyshire DE45 1LA; haddonhall.co.uk
Open 8 Apr-30 Sep, daily, 10.30am-4pm; plus selected dates in Oct & Dec – see website for details. Adults £14.50, OAPs £14, children (5-16) £8. Card valid for the whole property.
5: Harewood House, Leeds
Alan says: “Close to my family home in Yorkshire, we frequently visited it on Sunday runs out in my dad’s van. There is an especially spectacular terrace with views overlooking a lovely part of the world.”
(Photo by Lee Beal)
Spend the day exploring more than 120 acres of gardens and see the beautifully crafted Capability Brown landscape. Highlights include the formal terrace with herbaceous and tropical borders, the lakeside path, Himalayan garden with alpine and bog plants, and the Georgian walled garden full of fruit and vegetables. This year, don’t miss the new Victorian-themed planting scheme on the terrace. The filming location for ITV’s 2008 mini series ‘Lost in Austen’.
Harewood, Leeds LS17 9LG; harewood.org
Open 24 Mar-29 Oct, daily, 10am-6pm. Adults/OAPs £12.50, children (4-16) £7.50. Single visitor discount: 20%. Card valid for Grounds & Below Stairs Ticket only (£5 upgrade for State Floor), but not valid on bank hols or event days – phone or see website.
6: Lismore Castle Gardens, Ireland
Alan says: “I’ve had the good fortune to stay at Lismore and to admire its blissful setting and the remarkable trees and shrubs – magnolias in particular – in its gardens and grounds.”
Stroll through these richly planted, historic gardens, arranged over seven acres within the 17th-century outer defensive walls. The productive and ornamental areas include a wide diversity of beautifully maintained plants and trees, including a stately yew avenue. There is a sculpture collection and fine views of the castle and surrounding countryside. The castle was the location for the 2007 TV series of Jane Austen’s ‘Northanger Abbey’.
Lismore, County Waterford, Ireland; lismorecastlegardens.com
Open 16 Mar-15 Oct, daily, 10.30am-5.30pm. Adults €8, OAPs/children (5-18) €6.50. Single visitor discount: 40%.
7: Loseley Park, Surrey
Alan says: “The grounds are suitably stately and the superb 2.5 acre walled garden is divided into different rooms.”
The setting for the 2009 film of Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ (Mr Knightley’s residence) and the 2008 TV mini series ‘Sense & Sensibility’. Includes a herb garden, white garden and rose garden with more than 1,000 old-fashioned roses. There is also a moat walk, organic vegetable garden with many unusual varieties, and a wildflower meadow.
Guildford, Surrey GU3 1HS; loseleypark.co.uk
Open 1 May-28 Sep, Sun-Thu & bank hols, 11am-5pm. Adults £5.50, OAPs £5, children (5-16) £2.75. Card not valid on event days – see website.
8: Newby Hall Gardens, North Yorkshire
Alan says: “A real gem with astonishingly good herbaceous borders and particularly beautiful grounds to dream in.”
Renowned for its magnificent double herbaceous borders, this 40-acre garden offers beautiful and rare plants in a range of formal settings. These include a rose garden full of scent, a water garden with vibrant candelabra primulas, a lush tropical garden, a fern-filled rock garden with waterfall, an elegant white garden, a tranquil woodland walk, and much more. The 2007 BBC film of Jane Austen’s ‘Mansfield Park’ was filmed entirely on site.
Skelton-on-Ure, Ripon, North Yorkshire; newbyhall.com
Open 1 Apr-1 Oct, Tue-Sun & bank hols, plus daily in Jul & Aug, 11am- 5.30pm. Adults/OAPs £12, children (4-15) £9. Card not valid on event days – see website for details.
9: Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire
Alan says: “Deservedly noted for its rose gardens this is a garden for romantics surrounding a fairytale house and ruined Castle.”
The ruins of this organically managed garden are festooned with clematis and roses. Sudeley’s rose garden is named, The Queen’s Garden, because four of England’s Queens have walked there, Katherine Parr, Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and Queen Elizabeth I. There is Tudor-style topiary, and the herbal healing garden is an old-fashioned delight. Home of the 1996 TV series of Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’.
Winchcombe, Gloucsestershire GL54 5JD; sudeleycastle.co.uk
Open 6 Mar-29 Oct, daily, 10am-5pm. Adults £14.95, OAPs £13.95, children (5-15) £6. Single visitor discount: 20%. Card valid for the whole property.
10: Syon Park Gardens, Middlesex
Alan says: “There are great walks to enjoy in this garden on the opposite bank of the River Thames to Kew Gardens, and the Great Conservatory is a masterpiece of greenhouse engineering.”
Within the extensive parkland designed by ‘Capability’ Brown are 40 acres of gardens featuring many rare and veteran trees, a large lake and unique tidal water meadows (see main picture). Near the arboretum stands the statue of Flora, goddess of plants. Cacti and other tender plants thrive in the spectacular Great Conservatory. Used as a film location for the 2016 film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
Brentford, Middlesex TW8 8JF; syonpark.co.uk
Open 13 Mar-29 Oct, daily, 10.30am-5pm. Adults £7.50, OAPs £6, children (5-16) £4. Card not valid on event days – phone or see website for details.
BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine is on sale until 29 May, featuring the free 2 for 1 entry card and guide, for £4.75. Or buy online at gardenersworld.com/2-for-1gardens for £4.99 including postage.